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Have you heard about our LoveSwimming Podcast?

Hosted by Community Ambassador Clive Marquis, each episode contains expert tips on how to manage and grow your Swim Club or Swim School. Listen to all episodes for free on Spotify.

This article expands on the discussion in episode one, where Clive and his guest, Portsmouth Northsea coach Sam Redman, discuss performance environments. Read on to find out what a performance environment is, why it’s important, and how to create it at your sports club.

What is a performance environment?

A performance environment gives your members the right conditions to improve their skills and motivates them to continue working on their athletic performance.

This can apply to any level – from an elite athlete to a junior beginner. By providing a setting that encourages development, your members are more likely to progress, continue their training and pursue their sport.

Creating the right environment for swimmers to be able to flourish and succeed fast is key”, says Clive. “You may have the best swimmers around, but if there’s not the right environment to perform, they are not going anywhere.”

Why is a performance environment important?

This may seem obvious – after all, you want your members to do well. But creating a supportive environment goes well beyond a training session, or even sport.

It can help your members, particularly children, learn important lessons that will help them succeed later on in life. They experience ‘discipline, how to be on time, the importance of physical well-being, being responsible for your actions and training,’ says Sam.

A performance environment is also essential for unlocking the potential of your members. Ultimately, if there is no place for them to thrive, they won’t be motivated to perform well or even attend. ‘If you are not creating a fun environment for them or a challenging environment – a positively challenging one – they are not going to come’, says Sam.

Five ways to create a performance environment 

If you want to create an environment that excites your members to do well, and attend sessions with enthusiasm, here’s what you need to do:

1: Exceed in all areas

The main goal is creating an environment of excellence, and for excellence“, claims Sam. “…and that comes through multiple different things: excellent coaching, excellent members’ attitude, excellent knowledge, excellent right to learn, excellent support from parents.”

To achieve all this, you need to examine all training areas and identify potential improvements. Do all your coaches have the necessary skills and tools to support an excellent environment? Do parents know how they can help their children succeed? In reviewing and addressing these aspects, you are promoting the performance environment of your club.

2: Don’t ignore the basics

Excellent performance stems from solid foundations – and the best place to start is with the basics. Making sure members can execute basic moves and techniques in their discipline well means they are likely to progress to more challenging areas from there.

If a swimmer can do all the basics excellently, they’ll likely be superior at doing all the fun stuff”, Sam says.

You can promote basic skills by making them easily accessible to your members. For example, offer foundation training for beginners and a refresher workshop for members who haven’t trained in a while.

3: Use competitions tactically

Competitions are an easy way to engage members and increase motivation. Races, particularly in sports like swimming, offer an effective way to improve skills and techniques.

However, you should try not to focus on one aspect (like speed) and instead see how you can explore other metrics, such as technique. It could even be as simple as attendance.

Use leaderboards to display results, organise challenges or host tournaments to create a fun and competitive environment for your members.

4: Make time for fun sessions

Having fun and being motivated go hand in hand, and if you’re able to ensure your members enjoy themselves, they’ll want to come back for more. By understanding what they like, you can create sessions that will keep them engaged.

As a coach, you have to give the swimmers what they like, whether that be a technique session or dive practices that push them forward“, observes Sam.

Being flexible and accommodating members’ preferences helps you provide fun training sessions and helps retain your members.

Find out what your members like by regularly asking for feedback. You can gather this information at the end of a session or via an email survey / feedback form.

5: Work with your members

The members of a team have considerable influence on the overall performance environment.

Ideally, you would like your members to be committed to learning and progressing – their spark can ignite motivation and passion for the sport in others.

Conversely, those with strong athletic skills but who don’t attend regularly and don’t feel the need to progress can negatively influence the rest of the group.

Of course, you’d like your club to be welcome to everyone. However, if you want to create a performance environment for a particular group, it may be worth considering criteria for joining, such as regular attendance.


Small changes can make a big difference in creating a positive performance environment. Here’s a summary of our top tips…

  • Look at excellence in other domains, such as support and learning
  • Basic skills and techniques should be regularly revisited in training sessions
  • Apply competitions to different elements for variety and a broader appeal
  • Learn what your members enjoy so you can run fun sessions
  • Establish criteria for joining groups if performance is a priority at your club

This article was based on a podcast hosted by Clive Marquis, LoveSwimming Community Ambassador, and his guest Sam Redman, Portsmouth Northsea coach. Keep up-to-date with all the insightful content our Community Ambassadors create by joining one of our Community Groups on Facebook.

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